John Wesley Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1611 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

John Wesley represents an important figure for the religious world and especially for the Church of England. He was one of the most representative figures of the eighteenth century particularly due to his influence on the reshaping of the religious life not only in England but also in the United States. The present paper assesses John Wesley's track in life and his major achievements as a church reformer and social guide.

The times in which John Wesley lived were difficult ones particularly because there was a constant desire for the Church to find its right place in the society. Better said, the Church of England was indeed the most important institution in the state; however, there were other territories such as the United States colonies that were a mix of cultures and religions that could not have been subdued by a single strict religion such as that of the English Church. This background allowed both Wesley and its Methodist preach to reach millions of people in time. At this moment, the Methodist Church numbers around seventy million people worldwide

John Wesley was born in a very numerous family, as he was the fifteenth child of nineteen the family had

. However, Susanna Wesley, the mother of John Wesley, was as well part of a very large family. Yet, this has not prevented her in acting as the caretaker and education provider for the children together with their father, as well, a churchman. John followed a rather austere lifestyle enriched by the knowledge and study at the Oxford University, which also opened his eyes to the teaching of Christ and the Church.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Research Paper on John Wesley Assignment

During his studies at the prestigious university he constituted the "Holy Club," an association of young students who eventually dedicated their lives to serving a very strict and God related style of life. More precisely, "While at Oxford, he and a few friends including Charles Wesley, his brother, and George Whitefield, formed a club to debate the scriptures and encourage each other to seek the truth in their religious convictions. Each member was responsible to visit the sick and to conduct a service in the jail for the prisoners which at the time was considered extremely unusual by these young collegiate men"

. This comes to point out the importance education had for the young John and the way in which he determined his eventual path in life by preaching and following his beliefs.

Throughout his journeys he came to establish a particular way of thinking and acting, with the focus on the less privileged working class in England. It is common knowledge that the Church of England is one of the most conservative religious forums of Christianity. At the same time, the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century represented a massive source of inspiration in terms of revolutionary thought and rebellion against current order. In this sense, the Methodist Church preached a much more personal type of religious adoration. More precisely, John Wesley's role in the preaching and reaching out to common people was immense. In this sense, "he built up an enormous following, however, among the laboring poor of the new industrial areas, whom the established Church of England had tended to neglect, and by the late eighteenth century there were hundreds of Methodist chapels, presided over by itinerant lay preachers. Methodism was very much a religion of the poor, and had a great deal to do with a revolution in English religion, which was as radical in its effect, in its way, as was the Industrial Revolution itself"

. In this sense, one of the first elements of the Methodist belief is that it focuses on the common people, as opposed to the traditional Church of English which, although it has a rather strict rite and preaches, does not take into account the social distinctions at the level of the society and fails to adjust its discourse for all its followers.

Another important aspect of the Methodist Church as promoted by Wesley lies in the general principles he laid out in terms of beliefs and guiding rules. These include, "shun evil and avoid partaking in wicked deeds at all costs; perform kind acts as much as possible, and abide by the edicts of God the Almighty Father"

. Therefore, these three guiding principles represented the elements of his beliefs and throughout his life and through his deeds, Wesley tried to put them in practice.

Throughout his pilgrim missions he also arrived in the American colonies that by the late 18th century had already become independent from the British Empire. However, he managed to observe the atrocities that had taken place in terms of massacres on the native Indians by all other conquering nations such as the Spanish or the Portuguese before the British. More precisely, he wrote in one of his sermons on the way in which people can hurt other people in different times of history. Thus, "even cruelty and bloodshed, how little have the Christians come behind them! And not the Spaniards or the Portuguese alone, butchering thousands in South America: not the Dutch only in the East Indies, or the French in North America, following the Spaniards step-by-step: our own countrymen, too, have wantoned in blood, and exterminated whole nations; plainly proving thereby what spirit it is that dwells and works in the children of disobedience"

. He is appalled by the violence and lack of humanity observed in relation to the treatment of the Native Americans and he tries through sermons and teaching to provide for them a different set of religious rules that would bring them closer to God and more in touch with their own beliefs and considerations.

This aspect of the Methodist Church, related to the idea of the relation with God without any intermediary elements from the Church was indeed a crucial time in the history of the Christian Church and especially that of England. In this sense, Wesley preached, as a result of a personal revelation, that people can have their sins forgotten solely through the love of God every day and by respecting the three points mentioned above, the cornerstone of the Methodist beliefs. Furthermore, Wesley believed that the good deeds and the life presented according to strict but honest rules stand as proof for the true love of God. This is an important element because the Church of England as well as the Catholic Church are strongly connected to the material part of repenting, which often included financial gains for the Church. In this regard, given that the Methodists focused on a different sets of values and on the principle of physically helping the society, the change was essential for the way in which the Methodists would distinguish themselves among other denominated churches.

In relation to the way in which Wesley managed to become so popular, his preaching represented indeed a crucial moment in the history of the church. This is due to the fact that Wesley, through his preaching managed to provide a different solution to the issue of sin. In this sense, in one of the most important sermons he wrote, "Christian Perfection," he points out to the way in which a Christian becomes perfect. In this sense, "the very least which can be implied in these words, is, that the persons spoken of therein, namely, all real Christians, or believers in Christ, are made free from outward sin"

. The theme of the sermon is Christian perfection as seen from the eyes of the Church and from his eyes. In this sense, as stated above, the Methodists and Wesley believed that the love of God transforms the individual. Thus, he makes the connection between the world of the soul and the world of the living. Whereas the Church believes there is no… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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